Webslice adds Lets Encrypt across the board!

Lets Encrypt logo

I was playing around with one of my sites the other day and I realised it was running under https:// which was strange because I never bought a certificate or set it up.

After a bit of playing around it appeared that two other sites worked under https:// as well. None of which were configured by me. All were running WordPress. At this point I thought they had buggered up a setting so I raised a support ticket with my hosting provider Webslice.

The quick reply was,”We are offering free Let’s encrypted SSL for all the domains now.”

Lets Encrypt

For those of you who don’t know what Lets Encrypt is then its best to start with SSL. SSL is the encryption that protects your data on websites such as banks and Facebook. Anywhere where you login with a password should be encrypted otherwise your login and password just got sent and anyone in the middle of you and the website can read it.

This used to rely on certificates that were provided by trusted certificate authorities such as GlobalSign, Comodo and Symantec. The problem was, this was expensive. I saw a price yesterday of $150NZ for a two year certificate for one domain.

In comes Lets Encrypt. They “give people the digital certificates they need in order to enable HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for websites, for free, in the most user-friendly way we can. We do this because we want to create a more secure and privacy-respecting Web.”

And they recently issued their 100,000,000th certificate.

What this means is that now everybody can be encrypted using a trusted provider that is free. Our data just got safer. Our privacy just got private. It also means that hosting companies can roll out free SSL across their infrastructure which is exactly what Webslice have done.

Lets Encrypt logo
The Lets Encrypt logo is a trademark of the Internet Security Research Group. All rights reserved.

 

If you are using WordPress you may need to make a couple of changes.

Convert and split APE into FLAC using a CUE file

If you need to convert an APE file into a FLAC file then that is easy. It also turns out it is easy to split the APE file into different FLAC tracks using a CUE file.

Flacon

Flacon is an audio file encoder that extracts individual tracks from one big audio file and separates them into different tracks. It can also convert them in the process.

Flacon is available for many Linux distributions and can be installed on Fedora 25 with an easy.

sudo dnf install flacon

To convert APE files you will need also to install mac from rpmfusion-nonfree in order to read the files.

sudo dnf install mac

Simply select the destination directory, the pattern you want your files to be renamed as, what format you want them converted to and whether you want to apply replaygain. Then convert. It takes a surprisingly small amount of time.

Flacon converting ape files to flac

Aotea FM Great Barrier Islands Solar Powered Radio Station

Aotea FM logo

Aotea FM has come a long way in a relatively short time. From an initial small set of batteries and a couple of solar panels up a hill it now has three transmitting stations to cover as much of the Island as possible and a new broadcasting hut near the Claris shops.

That’s not a bad feat for an Island with no power grid.

It offers Island news, interviews, and an outlet for people to share their diverse tastes in music and culture. There is also the occasional weather forecast which can start at Great Barrier but stretch all the way into the Pacific in order to give surfers an idea what might be coming.

Aotea FM is run by volunteers as a local not for profit community effort. These volunteers do more than just play DJ. They have built the transmitters, the radio shack, governance, provided money and time, and occasionally they have to run up a hill to start a generator if there has been heavy cloud for a couple of days.

A weekly schedule can  look like a who’s who of the Island population, for example…..


Monday
08:00 – Kick Start with Brownie
10:30 – The Cure (Michelle & Marie)
13:00 – The Adam from Okupu Show
15:30 – Mystery Monday with Sharon

Tuesday
08:00 – The Breakfast Club (John Tate)
10:30 – Leebee’s Lunch Break
13:00 – The Rook show
15:30 – The Penny Drops

Wednesday
08:00 – “T” in the morning
10:30 – Nikki’s of Angels, Love & Horses
13:00 – L’Indie’sClassicJazz’nBlues
15:30 – Cool Grooves & Hot Tracks

Thursday
10:30 – Leebee & Lenny’s Music Mayhem
13:00 – Ngaire’s Thursday Cruize
15:30 – Cool Grooves & Hot Tracks

Friday
08:00 – Kit’s Morning Catch Up
10:30 – Phill’s Friday Fiasco
13:00 – Off the Record with Kathy
15:30 – Sali (Stolen Tuesday)

Saturday
08:00 – DJ Fresh
10:30 – Toni’s Top 10
13:00 – Stop it! Live with Leon
15:30 – Sharon’s Saturday Arvo

Sunday
10:30 – Sunday Buzz (Joseph Hodgetts)
13:00 – Tala’s Sunday session
15:30 – Lars and the Real Show


And you don’t have to be on the Barrier to listen. AoteaFM streams live online!





AoteaFM Collage

Install Discord on Fedora 25

Discord logo

Discord is a voice and text chat application aimed at gamers but can be used by anyone. Is is currently available on Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Android, iPhone, Windows, OSX, and Linux….Basically everywhere.

Installation on Fedora 25 is easy. Open a terminal and enable the copr repository.

sudo dnf copr enable vishalv/discord-canary

Then install with this command (You will have to accept the copr GPG key in order to install).

sudo dnf install discord-canary

It does seem to use a lot of resources on first start but after updating itself it should work just fine.

 

Gnome Online Accounts – Credentials have expired

If you are having trouble with Gnome Online Accounts not logging into Google make sure you are fully updated and try again. If that doesn’t work, then open a terminal and try,

pgrep goa-daemon | xargs kill -9

This will kill the Gnome Online Accounts daemon which will then automatically re-spawn. Worked for me!

 

Fedora 25 Workstation – Simple Install

You can download the Fedora 25 Workstation image from https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/. If you use the Fedora Media Writer then it can download the image for you. In Windows I generally just download an image and then write it to a USB stick using the Linux Live USB Creator. In Linux distributions I usually write the image to a USB using the dd command.

There are a few things you should do before you install Fedora 25 on your computer. The first of which is to decide whether you really need to install it? You can just write it to a USB sick or DVD and boot from that into the live environment. This is good way to test your hardware compatibility and find out if your graphics chip and internet connection work?

Having decided to do that, the next decision is whether you want to dual boot it. This means partitioning your hard drive to run Fedora on some partitions and another operating system (eg; Windows 10) on another.

This is a simple guide and assumes that you want to use Fedora 25 as your only operating system. It isn’t going to go into setting up UEFI or disabling secure boot. Nor is it going to go into the complexities of installing on a Macbook Pro. It is ‘simply’ to give you an idea of the Fedora 25 install process and what to expect while installing it.

You may have to configure your bios to boot from the DVD or USB stick. Generally in modern computers there is a key you can press at boot to choose your boot medium. On my computer it is F11. Others differ.

On boot you will be presented with this screen.

Boot Screen

You can use your up and down arrow keys to change the selection. Choose “Test this media & start Fedora-Workstation-Live 25”. This will check that your media hasn’t been corrupted and will boot you into a live desktop environment.

Fedora will then check your media.

Live Environment

And after booting into the live environment will ask whether you want to “Try Fedora” (eg; stay in the live environment) or “Install to Hard drive” (eg; start the installation process). I recommend choosing “Try Fedora” and then checking whether your network connection and other hardware works properly.

At this point all changes you make in the live environment are volatile and will be lost on reboot. Changes to hardware are not though (eg; deleting files on your hard drive). You can find the “Install to Hard Drive” program again by selecting “Activities” in the top left corner.

Selecting “Install to Hard Drive” will take you to the first screen of the installer.

Welcome To Fedora 25

This screen allows you to choose your language on the left and your localisation on the right. After your choice has been highlighted, select continue.

The next screen is the “Installation Summary”.

Installation Summary

All items with red text under them must be completed before you can install.

If you wish to change your keyboard select “Keyboard” on the left under “Localisation”.

Keyboard Layout

Here you can add or remove keyboards using the plus or minus signs on the left and, having highlighted, a keyboard you can click the small picture of a keyboard to display an image of it. The up and down buttons can be used to highlight different keyboards.

On the right is an area you can test configurations by typing and using the options button allows you to set up a key combination for swapping between keyboard layouts if you use more than one.

After checking your keyboard is correct you can select “done” on the top left and this will take you back to the “Installation Summary”.

Time & Date

The second option in the “Installation Summary” is Time & Date. Here you have multiple ways to select your systems time settings.

On the top left there are drop down menus to select your “Region” and “City”.

On the top right you can choose whether to enable “Network Time” and by selecting the small gears to the right of this you can additional network time servers.

Selecting where you live in the world will automatically configure your time to that region.

Any final adjustments can be made on the base menu but shouldn’t be needed.

Selecting “Done” will return you to the”Installation Summary”.

Installation Destination

Under “Local Standard Disks” you can see the disk we are going to be installing to (With a tick on it. This means it is currently selected) In this case it is a 20GB virtual disk automatically created by Boxes (A Virtual OS installer and manager).

In real life the disk is usually much larger and there may be more than one disk. Some common scenarios for multiple disks might be an SSD to install the root file  system on with a separate disk for home or maybe two disks in a RAID 1 configuration to provide an exact mirroring of information on one disk to the other (For disk redundancy). Installing to multiple disks is outside the scope of this tutorial.

Beneath that is “Specialized & Network Disks”. Again this is outside the scope of this tutorial but clicking on this will allow you configure nonstandard disks.

Under the “Other Storage Options” heading is “Partitioning”. The “Automatically configure partitioning” option is selected by default. You may leave this selected but in most cases it is a good idea to choose “I will configure partitioning”.

Having selected “I will configure partitioning” if you select  “Done” on the top left you will be taken to a new screen.

Manual Partitioning

Here you can either select the option to create the partitioning scheme automatically (“Click here to create them automatically”) or you can create a new partition scheme using drop down menu.

By default this menu starts on “LVM” but since this is a completely new partition scheme and we won’t need more than four partitions select “Standard Partition” in the drop down.

There are a couple of reasons you should choose to set up your own partitioning scheme. For instance, choosing the automatic partition scheme on a 20GB disk means that your home folder is in the root partition.

Not the best scheme if you have to reinstall later on or you want to swap distributions. Also, no EFI boot partition has been created. This might be because none was detected but if you want to use UEFI boot then you will need that partition. Another reason could be that you have more than 2GB of RAM.  The reason RAM makes a difference to your partitioning is that if your computer hibernates then it writes the RAM to the swap partition to read back later. Redhat has some recommendations for this case.

At the lower left of the window there is a plus, a minus, and a refresh symbol (Until you have created a partition the minus will unusable)

Selecting the plus will bring the “Add A New Mount Point” dialogue.

Firstly, set the “Mount Point” as “/” in the drop down dialogue.  “/” is the symbol used for the root of the Linux file system. Since this is a 20GB disk we will only specify 5000 in the “Desired Capacity” box. This means 5000MB or 5GB. In a desktop install with lots of space you could enter  20000 or more in this box to make sure you don’t run out of room.

Select “Add Mount Point” to add it to the partition scheme and select plus again for your second partition which will be called Home. This will be where all your files are stored.

Each time you create a mount point the details of the mount point will be displayed on the right. The defaults are fine.

This time in the drop down menu select “/home” as the “Mount Point” and enter 13000 in the”Desired Capacity” box and then “Add Mount Point”.

Because we have already used 18000MB of our 20000MB disk our third and final partition can only be 2000MB large. It will be the swap partition. In the drop down menu select “/swap” as the “Mount Point” and enter 2000 in the”Desired Capacity” box and then “Add Mount Point”.

Having completed the partitioning scheme you can now select “Done” on the top left, confirm, and return to the “Installation Summary”.

Network & Host Name

You should already be connected to the network and the installer asks you to use those settings. You can specify your “Host Name” here though. Basically it is the name that other computers will call you on your network. This can be useful for  identifying you computer while browsing the network.

Enter your host name and select “Done” to return to the “Installation Summary”

Remember, nothing is written to disk until you select “Begin Installation” so you can go back and check or change all your settings as many times as you want. Because you are still in the live environment you can also start Firefox or another program if you want to find help on the Internet or “Help” in the top right of the “Installation Summary” screen.

If you are happy with your settings you can now select “Begin Installation”. This will begin your install and take you to the “Configuration” screen.

Configuration

 

 

Internet Party

So, the Internet Party is back again. Well, not really back. It never really left, but after the drubbing it got in the last election it appears to be making serious progress once more.

And drubbing it was. Approaching the last election  the Internet party was the darling of the media but the shine started to go of it in the week leading up to the “Moment of Truth” and post that…..well, all the media concentrated on Kim Dotcoms failure to to provide a smoking gun instead of concentrating on the New Zealand government spying on it’s citizens and being complicit in the deaths of civilians in Iraq.

It was after the last election I joined the party. The day after in fact. It didn’t matter to me that the media was attacking it. It didn’t matter that the general population thought they looked like a bunch of idiots. What mattered was that they were right.

The GCSB was spying on New Zealanders. Why? Well, you tell me. There have been five so called terrorist attacks in New Zealand. The Huntly rail bridge bombing (1951), the Vietnam War protests (1969-70), the Wanganui Computer Centre bombing (1982), the Wellington Trades Hall bombing (1984) and the Rainbow Warrior bombing (1985).

There had been no attacks worthy of the label ‘terrorist’ in New Zealand for almost 30 years and yet now, in the interests of security, the GCSB is able to spy on New Zealanders legally. No charges for the illegal surveillance of at least 85 people during the period of 2003 to 2012. No comeback on the department or the Prime Minister (At that point the Minister Responsible for the GCSB) over lying to New Zealand people from 2012 till 2013 as he said that the agency, “isn’t and will never be wholesale spying on New Zealanders,”

But I rant…..

That was only one reason to vote for the Internet Party. Their support of Education and Health care. Their rejection of the TPPA (Ratified by our cabinet and now being resurrected by them) being forced through. One of the few parties that rejected the destruction of democracy after the Christchurch Earthquake. They had a host of decent policies from saving the Maui dolphin to updating the health system. Policies that were based on fact where possible, hope where needed, and aspiration where applicable.

And now they are back. Some policies have stayed, some have been updated. New policy has yet to be announced. Some policies appear to have been dropped. I hope, however, that they will continue to stand for what is right and true instead of what is politically feasible. We need to stop being #labnats and stand up for what we are, and what we want to be.

 

Batch convert PDF to JPG

So, last night I had to batch convert a large PDF called v35_22_31_Auckland.pdf into JPG. Or to put it another way separate out the PDF’s pages and convert them into JPG images. I tried it a couple of ways including Converseen which did the job but renamed all the files badly and changed the image size (from A3 to A4). ImageMagick was the same although probably more from my misreading of the man pages.

Eventually I settled on using pdftocairo (part of the Poppler utilities) and specifying the x and y  scale to retain the original page size. I found the page size by extracting one page using PDFMod and opening it in GIMP. After that I copied the original PDF into a folder and then opened a terminal in it and ran this command.

pdftocairo -jpeg -scale-to-y 1653 -scale-to-x 1169 v35_22_31_Auckland.pdf

It worked perfectly filling the folder with correctly sized JPG’s.

 

 

 

Vaccination

vaccination

At 7:56 am on the 17th of May 2016 RNZ reported on Concerns that people are being coerced into being vaccinated by the ‘No Forced Vaccines’ group. All well and fine, but shortly afterwards (8:54 am on 17 May 2016) there was a rebuttal interview with Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre. Still all well and fine, but then up popped a rebuttal of the rebuttal not on RNZ but instead on social media and Youtube where the spokesperson of the ‘No Forced Vaccines’ group showed evidence via a series of slides while the interview played over the top.

It is this rebuttal that this post is about. According to the slides she was misquoted, Nikki Turner either ignorantly or wilfully mislead the public, and everything she had said had a sound reasoned basis to it. It turns out that isn’t true. 75% of the references lead back to one website run by James Mercola. An American who is, in his own words, running “The World’s #1 Natural Health Website” and in the words of his critics “Mercola publishes daily risk-based attacks by heavily syndicated “news” blogs which are frequently afterwards tied to his choice “safe” product alternatives to possibly heal a ill or risk promoted in his explanation articles.”

Vaccination Video

And here is my ten cents on the videos slides.

I will list the slides on the video by time.

0:44 Vitamin C proven to cure over 30 major diseases
The slide is of the Natural News website. A blog that well…read the wiki entry. The “Vitamin C proven to cure over 30 major diseases” entry is based on the clinical papers of Dr Klenner which were published in between 1949 and 1970. The scientific consensus is that while vitamin C dificiency will harm a sick patient there appears to be no papers I can find that regard vitamin C as a cure for measles. However, vitamin A is used in the treatment of measles. Vitamin C isn’t toxic though so it probably won’t hurt to try, but you should probably read this first.

0:48 Vitamin C the miracle treatment that cured man on the brink of death
An unnamed website. So I have googled it and found that it is a mercola.com. A website and company run by James Mercola. He is also listed on Quackwatch.

1:10 Unnamed website
After a quick search it turns out to be the Mercola website again. See above.

1:20 Do you need to be afraid of measles?

1:22 This is not true. Katherine Smith did not talk about herbal medicine.
Yes she did. She recommended people see a Doctor or a Naturopath. A naturopath is,”a form of alternative medicine employing a wide array of “natural” modalities, including homoeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle counselling.” She also identified herself as a herbalist and stated that she had looked into it professionally.

1:30 Unnamed website
Which is another Mercola website. See 0:48.

1:34 The voice of Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre

2:07 Measles vaccine more dangerous than measles itself
Another screenshot from the Mercola website. See 0:48. I would suggest you read this. Especially this bit,”But in endemic areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the measles case fatality ratio often ranges from 5%–10%.”

2:28 Unnamed website
Which is another Mercola website. See 0:48.

2:36 Studies show measles vax spreads virus
The website is The Healthy Economist, there are links to the studies at the bottom of the page. It also says this at the bottom of the page.

“The number of measles deaths declined from 7575 in 1920 (10,000 per year in many years in the 1910s) to an average of 432 each year from 1958-1962.17 The vaccine was introduced in 1963. Between 2005 and 2014, there have been no deaths from measles in the U.S. and 108 deaths from the MMR vaccine.”

Which would suggest the vaccine is far safer with 1.8 deaths per annum vs 432 in the unvaccinated population in America.

2:49 Measles vaccine likely caused the death of four infants in Nepal, say authorities.
Which is another Mercola website. See 0:48.

2:56 Twins die minutes after measles vaccination
Which is another Mercola website. See 0:48.

3:04 Unnamed website
Probably this page on a website that advises,”*The information we provide access to is not intended, nor designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.” Further reading on the website founder can be found here.

3:30 Alert recently vaccinated in individuals can spread disease
I was unable to find this slide anywhere.

3:41 Measles vaccine undeniably linked to autism
Which is another Mercola website. See 0:48.

4:04 Most pro-vaxxers have never even looked at a vaccine package insert
Suggested reading.

4:08 CDC whistleblower statement
He has also released another statement,”I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.” and the paper has not been retracted. Full statement is on here (sorry, I can’t find the original) and a wider discussion is here.

4:41 unamed website
Mercola again. See 0:48.

5:08 Inflammatory staged vaccine photo

5:16 The voice of Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre

My impression of this rebuttal is not good. Basically it is repeats the views of four websites; Natural News (1 time), Mercola (9 times), Greenmedinfo(1 time) and The Healthy Home Economist (1 time). The views of Mercola are reapeated 9/12 times or 75% as proof that Katherine Smith’s assertions (rebutal as least) are correct. To quote wikipedia,”In 2005, 2006, and 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company to stop making illegal claims regarding his products’ ability to detect, prevent, and treat disease.” Further referenced reading on Mercola can be found here and here.

I mean really. If you want to back your views, this is not the way to do it and Mercola.com is not the company you should be referencing. All the anti vaccination lobby, that is really what the ‘No Forced Vaccinations’ group is a front for, need to do is to use their funding (which they get a lot of) to do some actual scientific air tight studies and when the study is criticised to take that critique on board and do an even better study instead of being the mouth piece of a company that appears to prey on peoples fears in order to make money.

Internet upgrades

Internet Upgrades

It looks like the Local Board and everybody contacting Chorus and Ministers with their concerns might be having some effect. Amy Adams sent this the other day.

Internet Upgrades

Dear Mr Harre

Thank you for your email dated 6 March 2016 to Hon Nikki Kaye, Member of
Parliament for Auckland Central, regarding broadband services on Great Barrier
Island. The matters you raise fall within my portfolio responsibilities as Minister for
Communications, and have therefore been forwarded to me for response.

I can understand your frustrations and share your concerns that some
New Zealanders are not able to receive a satisfactory internet connection because of
where they live. That is why this Government has committed to lifting New Zealand’s
broadband performance, and the first phases of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and
Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes are well on their way to delivering
faster speeds to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders by 2020.

As a Minister of the Crown, I am unable to intervene in the business operations of
private companies, such as Chorus and Vodafone. However, I have asked my
officials to provide an update on broadband availability on Great Barrier Island. I
understand that you may have already received information from the office of Hon
Nikki Kaye in relation to your email so you may already be aware of some of the
information below.

Chorus has confirmed that it has recently made the decision to upgrade two existing
cabinets on Great Barrier Island by June 2016. This upgrade will improve the speeds
of existing connections and will allow for new customers to be connected. These
upgrades, however, will not extend to the entire Island.

If you still reside at Mason Road, much of the information in my previous letter to
you (reference CITAA1415-410) remains current. It is unlikely that the planned
upgrades will improve the broadband connection to your address. The primary
reason you experience slow speeds at your address is due to your distance of more
than 6km from the cabinet that delivers broadband services to your area. This is
beyond the theoretical limit of ADSL.

I note your comments about slow internet speeds on Great Barrier Island generally.
Chorus has confirmed that, although broadband services are linked to the mainland
(the backhaul link) by Digital Microwave Radio in the Waikato, broadband speeds on
Great Barrier Island are not affected by services in the Waikato. Furthermore,
infrastructure upgrades in the Coromandel have no adverse impact on the
infrastructure that provides services to Great Barrier Island.

Vodafone has confirmed that the RBI towers providing fixed-wireless services to the
Island also use Chorus backhaul. The use of Chorus’ fibre does not impact the
fixed-line access network on Great Barrier Island.

Vodafone has advised my officials that it has a long term commitment to Great
Barrier Island and has managed to provide considerable increased coverage over the
last three years. However, it does not currently have plans for further upgrades.

When planning future upgrades, Vodafone takes into account area population,
potential demand, initial deployment costs, ongoing maintenance and future upgrade
requirements. Upgrading a network outside of Government programmes is a
commercial decision on the part of private companies, such as Vodafone, and will be
driven by network priorities. I am unable to intervene in such decisions.

I note your comment that it would have been desirable to deploy UFB to Great
Barrier Island instead of fixed-wireless broadband under the RBI. While the
Government would like to be able to provide UFB to all, the cost of deployment in
areas with difficult terrain and low population densities means this is not currently
possible, and we have had to prioritise.

Please be assured that this Government is actively seeking ways to help improve
broadband coverage across New Zealand, particularly in rural and more remote
areas. To this end, the Government is extending the UFB programme, entering the
second phase of the RBI programme, and establishing a new Mobile Black Spot
Fund which focuses on areas of state highways and tourism areas that currently
have no coverage. With combined funding of up to $360 million, it is intended that
mobile and broadband coverage will be expanded to many communities across
New Zealand under these programmes.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Amy Adams
Minister for Communications